This was my first home electronics project, and it was a lot of fun.


What is this?

It's a prototype of a laser harp. It has lasers in place of all of the strings. Breaking a laser simulates plucking a string, and as seen in the video, you can move up and down like a real harp. The breaking of a laser can also be programmed to perform functions, which is demonstrated in the video when a basic song is played when the leftmost laser is broken, and then it stops when the rightmost laser is broken. Although it's in the shape of a harp, it can essentially play any type of instrument that a user desires by changing the type of notes played when a laser beam is broken.

This was only built in a prototype version that was admittedly a bit rough (notice the wooden frame). It was meant to partially be a proof of concept.

Why did I do this?

Back in high school, I was in the robotics club. My good friend and I used to always build interesting things like Lego robots, arcade machines, and anything we could think of. At one point, we saw a video (I think it was this), and naturally, we thought that a laser harp would be the coolest thing ever. We looked into it, but it was quite beyond our abilities at the time, and the robotics club coordinator encouraged us to try something else, so we gave up on it.

Fast forward to the start of my second year of electrical engineering at university, and I'd learnt a few things in my first year, so I wanted to try to build a laser harp that we always wanted to back in the day. I was a bit lost, but pushed on, and managed to make it in a few weeks.

It was such a fun experience to create something from imagination that I was suddenly hooked on making my own electronics projects at home. Classes and assessment got in the way, but since this laser harp, I've always been trying to work on things, just to experience the fun and challenges that come with these projects.

Extra Notes

This project was completed in early 2014, at the start of my 2nd year of electrical engineering.

In the course of this project, I used and learnt about:

-The difficulty of aligning many lasers to point on sensors, and then keeping them aligned

-Circuit design

-Embedded programming with a Teensy

-MIDI standard

-Multiplexing ICs

-The importance of pull-up and pull-down resistors